Tanabata (meaning "Evening of the Seventh") is a Japanese star festival, originating from the Chinese Qixi Festival. It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively). According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar (7/7). The date of Tanabata varies by region of the country, but the first festivities begin on July 7th of the Gregorian calendar.
In present-day Japan, people generally celebrate this day by writing wishes, sometimes in the form of poetry, on tanzaku, small pieces of paper, and hanging them on bamboo, sometimes with other decorations. The bamboo and decorations are often set afloat on a river or burned after the festival, around midnight or on the next day. This resembles the custom of floating paper ships and candles on rivers during Obon. Many areas in Japan have their own Tanabata customs, which are mostly related to local Obon traditions.
This is like a Wishing Tree.....and this year we are celebrating this by tying our own wishes to our tree in the backyard today. And tomorrow night we will take them down and burn them. I think this is a cool idea, something fun to celebrate another culture. Also I love the story of Vega and Altair!